Ivan Bender, the 6-foot-9 European forwarded who joined Maryland's roster this season, still isn't medically cleared to play and almost surely won't appear in a game this season, Comcast Sportsnet's Dan Martin reported from a Maryland media availability Wednesday. By not playing this year, Bender will preserve an extra year of eligibility as a redshirt.
When Bender, of Bosnia, officially joined the team just after the new year, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said he was less than fully healthy. Bender has been recovering from ACL surgery, biding his time during Maryland games at the end of the bench, wearing sweats. He's practiced some, but Maryland cautioned from the beginning that Bender was never likely to play in games this season. By this point, it's fairly certain that he won't.
In the next few seasons, though, Bender figures to play an important role. The Terrapins will lose senior forwards Evan Smotrycz and Jon Graham next season, while junior Jake Layman could leave for the NBA or play more minutes at small forward. Transfer Robert Carter will fill more of Maryland's vacated front-court minutes than anyone, but it's hard to imagine Bender not finding some space in Turgeon's rotation. Along with Carter, Damonte Dodd and Michal Cekovsky, Bender will give Maryland a promising group of big men, all of whom will have at least two years of eligibility remaining.